Carter thinks there are some key lessons that people of all walks of life can learn from the show when it comes to money management and just being a good person. Speaking of his character, Carter said, “You got a lot of people in [Vernon’s] ear telling him what to do,” later adding, “Sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes.” Carter hopes younger players can learn a few tips on how to manage their finances and set themselves up for rewarding lives. “I’m learning from Vernon’s mistakes right now in my real life,” he said.
In the show, Carter’s character, Vernon, figures out that he needs to heed the advice of those who care about him and ultimately make decisions that are best for his career. Indeed, in real-life, Carter wouldn’t be where he is if he hadn’t listened to advice and made his own decisions along the way. When Carter didn’t make the Oakland Raiders during the tryout weekend, his dreams were crushed. Not knowing what to do next, Carter spoke to his UCLA defensive line coach, Angus McClure. McClure put Carter in touch with a former UCLA quarterback, actor Mark Harmon. Carter hadn’t acted since a role in an elementary school play of To Kill a Mockingbird, but, inspired by Harmon, he decided to take a risk and give acting a try.
Carter’s open mind paid off. After successfully landing a few commercial gigs, he had the opportunity to audition for “Ballers.” Three months of nail biting and uncertainty passed, and Carter received word that he had landed the role of a lifetime. “[There’s been] ups and downs like everybody,” said Carter, but “I just appreciate the moment [and] enjoy every day.”
After three seasons on “Ballers,” Carter has grown as an actor and as a person. On the first season he said he wanted to do everything right, but now he likes to mix it up with different choices. “You have to put yourself out there,” he said. “It’s up to you to be risky enough to try something.” Just like his days playing football with the Bruins, Carter mastered the art of listening to the director, showrunner and fellow cast, but most importantly, he learned to trust his own instincts. Gaining an understanding of how to take good advice and stay true to himself has served Carter well in football, acting and in life.
Carter compared the collaborative atmosphere of “Ballers” to being on a great football team. Describing what it’s like to be on set, he said, “There’s no ego. There’s no animosity. Everybody genuinely loves each other.” Carter has previously spoken about the positive influence of working with Johnson. When he first started on the show, he felt a mix of nerves and excitement, and Johnson reassured Carter that everyone believed in him and told him to just keep doing what he was doing.
Carter hopes “Ballers” will go for a fourth season, but beyond the HBO comedy he wants to continue to grow as an actor and expand his range. “I want to try different things,” said Carter about his future. Always willing to put himself out there, if the role is a good fit, Carter is all in. “My goal every year is to always be better,” he said. He also hopes that his story will inspire others to take risks and believe in themselves. “Go for your dreams,” he said, “whatever gives you the butterflies.”